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It is a matter of culture
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, April 07, 2007

Militaries have their own cultures just as societies do. In fact, within a military, various services will have slightly different cultures.

One of the striking things about the British hostage situation that has caused so many American veterans (and active duty members) to react with a level of shock is the apparent speed in which the hostages cooperated with the Iranians. As I've been theorizing, some of that has to do with a lack of training.

But I think some of it may also have to do with the culture of the present British military. And I say this after googling "British military code of conduct" and being unable to find anything. I had no problem finding the US Code of Conduct for members of the military. It says:
Article I: I am an American, fighting in the armed forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

Article II: I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.

Article III: If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.

Article IV: If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information nor take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way.

Article V: When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.

Article VI: I will never forget that I am an American, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.
Anyone who has gone through basic training or spent any time in uniform usually can recite them by heart or, at least, give you the gist of each point. It is something the culture of the American military stresses and a standard to which it trains. You are inculcated with the principles of that Code of Conduct and you are expected to live up to it.

I've highlighted a couple of points that I mentioned in the BlogTalk Radio show we did last night. Senior officers take charge and dictate how the other POWs will comport themselves. It is the senior officer's job (or in the absence of an officer, the senior NCO) not only to make that decision but to ensure others abide by his or her decisions. I'm going to be interested to learn if the senior officer there did indeed attempt at any point to take charge and dictate their behavior.

However, to make a point - in the absence of such direction, the Code of Conduct outlines the standards by which the soldier is expected to conduct himself. It appears, at least with my cursory search, that no such code exists for the British military.

The other portion I've highlighted speaks to the responsibility of the POW to evade, to the best of his or her ability, "answering further questions" or making "oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause." I"m going to be interested to learn the dynamics of the individual situations which led the hostages to decide to make such statements. My guess is the decisions were made individually, in isolation, and in the absence of any training to prepare them for their ordeal. I'd also guess those decisions were made in the absence of any direction from the senior officer present.

If so, that is surely a critical cultural problem within the British military and one which should be addressed and corrected immediately.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

The ’US Code of Conduct’?

What about the slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians by US forces panicking in combat situations, or as retribution for the deaths of fallen comrades, with deliberate acts of rape and murder perpetrated on defenseless women and children?

Have you forgotten about Abu Ghraib? Where is THAT covered in the US ’Code of Conduct’?

What about the disgraceful unprofessionalism of your forces recklessly firing on allies. Forget the ’blue on blue’s against British and Canadian forces in recent years and search the web for references to the T.C.G Muavanet(DM-357)- a Turkish destroyer wrecked by US forces ON AN EXERCISE!

With allies like YOU, who needs enemies?

I hope to god that UK NEVER adopts ANYTHING like the military doctrine of your country’s armed forces.
Written By: Buck Black
URL: http://
Buck, you forgot to add (/sarcasm).
Written By: Piercello
URL: http://
Buck: Abu Ghraib is covered in the Geneva Conventions... You know, the one that says it’s ok to saw a guy’s head of and video-tap it for TV release...

And while I like the UK (really, I do, I think y’all are great) this wasn’t even on the top ten of "proudest moments" fo you folks. Lets admit it...

I don’t want you leaving Iraq. No sane person does...

You? You can go to hell though, moron...
Written By: Scott
URL: http://
Have you forgotten about Abu Ghraib? Where is THAT covered in the US ’Code of Conduct’?
Uuuuuh, Buck, I think they went to trial in a case prosecuted by the U.S. military. Have the insurgents prosecuted anyone for beheading or other crimes?
Just read on Jihad Watch a short excerpt from a BBC article (inked there) which interviewed some of the hostages. (Buck, must I say detainees?)
Buck, since you don’t buy into (a well-spent Buck) the U.S. Code of Conduct what do you think about the Geneva Convention and it’s uneven application?
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
James Stockdale

Just to give you an idea of what McQ is talking about.
Written By: Terry
URL: http://
Vice Admiral (ret) Stockdale was one of the most amazing people this country has ever produced.
Written By: Scott
URL: http://
What about the disgraceful unprofessionalism of your forces recklessly firing on allies.
It’s called a training accident. Sh*t happens.

As mentioned here, the US admiral in command of the operation eventually committed suicide.
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
IraqSlogger has an interesting article detailing many of the problems involved in th seizure of the Brits. Apparently this cluster fk has an interesting back story as well as details not reviled in the press.
Written By: James E. Fish
details not reviled in the press.
Hehe, we gotta come up with a term for these, James. We can call them "Fishisms" if you like.
Written By: Bryan Pick
We can call them "Fishisms" if you like
OK by me. This fish never schooled.
Written By: James E. Fish

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